Tips for Working Parents: Children 3 to 5 Years

Girl helping woman set dinner table.Children age 3 to 5 are beginning to show independence and are better able to express their feelings—including verbalizing their frustration when things don’t go their way. Navigating these new skills can sometimes be challenging for working parents who may have limited flexibility and need to keep things on schedule.

On the upside, children may now enjoy playing with or near other kids and can follow classroom rules, making preschool time something they may begin to look forward to. However, routines and transitions are especially important for this age group who may struggle with new childcare situations or goodbyes. 


Experts recommend being clear and consistent with rules. Knowing what to expect gives your child some security and confidence. Prepare your child for a transition with frequent reminders so the child knows what’s coming up next. At home, setting a timer can help take the power struggle out of a transition. Set the time for 5 or 10 minutes before a change in activity and let the buzzer be the impartial final say.

Set routines

When dropping a child off at preschool, have a brief and upbeat goodbye routine. For example, listen to the child’s favorite song on the drive to school. Sign in and say hello to the class pet. Teachers often have a set of welcome activities to help ease this transition, such as moving their picture from an “Out” to “In” bulletin board when they arrive, gathering for circle time, or signing up for a helper role.

Don’t drag out goodbyes at preschool or daycare. Manage your own anxiety, too. Send your child off with a confident smile and encourage him or her to have a great day.

At home, set up a routine for after work that allows you to spend a few minutes together and share the details of your days. Preschoolers often enjoy a sense of responsibility. Have your preschooler help with dinner prep or setting the table.